Common MBA Essay Questions |

Common MBA Essay Questions

By QS Contributor

Updated September 26, 2014 Updated September 26, 2014

While MBA essay questions vary by school, the majority of MBA applications ask the same two questions: "What are your post-MBA goals?" (the MBA career essay question), and "How can this school help you achieve those goals?" (the "why this business school?" essay question). This article will give you some tips on how to better answer both of those questions.

The MBA Career Essay

In order to write an MBA Career Essay, you must prepare a career goals statement. Articulating your career plans will help you clarify your goals, and help you write a good essay. Your MBA Career essay needs to cover the following items:

    • Your long and short-term career goals

    • Your reasons for applying for an MBA program at this point in your life

    • Your specific reasons for applying to that particular business school

  • How you will contribute to the campus community

What's the best way to address all of these components? Be specific. This will help you come up with the well-defined, feasible goals that the admissions committee is looking for. Make sure you mention both the industry you want to work in and the job function you want to have. Admissions committee members look for applicants with clearly stated goals, because it is easier to steer those types of people toward the right classes, clubs and internships.

In addition to telling the admissions committee what you want to do, it is a good idea to also state why you want to do it. You can do this by explaining why you chose those particular career goals, as well as what you hope to accomplish by having that type of career.

If the word limit allows it, you should also summarize your career history (even if the question doesn't require it). Your past performance can prove how ambitious you are, and can also be used to predict your post-MBA career outlook. Ideally, your MBA essay will connect your past work experience to your future career goals.

The Why This Business School Essay

The admissions committee asks this question in order to determine if you can fit in and be successful at their business school. That's why you need to demonstrate that you know what your life would be like as a student there. To determine how you would fit, research the school. Find out about their programs, courses, and campus culture. Just like the MBA Career Essay, it pays to be specific here. For example, you could research the curriculum and name classes that you think would help you reach your career goals.

Campus visits are a good idea, because you can experience the school and its community first-hand. Visits can also inspire good MBA essay material. For example, you can write about the things on campus that caught your attention. Have conversations with members of the campus community, and try to incorporate them into your essay. You can do this by discussing what you learned by talking to alumni and students. Even if you can't make it to campus, you could still have an informational interview with alumni or current students. This shows the admissions committee that you've done your homework.

Finally, make sure each business school gets the correct essay. While the Wharton admissions committee is aware that you're applying to other schools, they probably don't care about your reasons for wanting to attend Harvard Business School. In addition to coming off as insulting, sending the wrong essay also sends the message that you lack attention to detail.

This article was originally published in August 2012 . It was last updated in September 2014

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